98 sex offenders due for release in the next year
THERAPY: Only 22 have had treatment in prison
ALMOST 100 convicted sex offenders are to be released onto the country's streets in the next 12 months.
Most of the paedophiles, rapists and other sexual predators have not undergone treatment while in custody.
In a letter obtained by the Herald, Justice Minister Dermot Ahern reveals that 98 convicted sex offenders will be freed from prison by next September.
Only 22 of these convicts will have taken part in the Building Better Lives (BBL) Programme which aimed to provide some level of rehabilitation.
Fine Gael's Alan Shatter today called for "radical reform" to stop sex offenders like Larry Murphy being allowed back onto the streets without treatment.
"There is no doubt that the public will be very concerned at these revelations," he said.
He added that there is "substantial public interest in ensuring that all convicted sex offenders participate in appropriate programmes prior to release so as to reduce the likelihood of reoffending".
Mr Shatter sought the information from the Department of Justice in late September but it took Dermot Ahern's office nearly six weeks to compile.
In the reply, Minister Ahern outlined that the 98 due for release including 15 offenders who are not currently serving sentences for a sexual offence but did so in the past.
Of the 98, just 22 have engaged in the BBL programme while another 15 engaged with the Psychology Service or the Probation Service on a one-to-one basis but have not taken part in the group programme.
"Thirty were deemed unsuitable for reasons such as appealing their case or denying responsibility and/or refusing to engage in the BBL programme," wrote Minister Ahern.
Mr Shatter responded to the Minister's statement by saying that he has "utterly failed . . . to extend to the public the maximum protection possible on the release of sex offenders".
"Although the Minister's letter states that 15 out of the 76 offenders have to some extent engaged with the Psychology Service or Probation Service, it is not clear from the information furnished what was the purpose or nature of their engagement with any such service," noted the Dublin South TD.
He added: "There are also worries that this information is not immediately available from the Minister.
"On September 30 last I asked the Minister for Justice the number of offenders to be released in the immediate 12 month period and the number who have participated in appropriate programmes.
"Surprisingly, this information was not readily available but had to be collated. Surely, Dermot Ahern should have this information at his fingertips."
The issue of releasing untreated sex offenders from prison came to national attention earlier this year when sex beast Larry Murphy was released.
Murphy, who is also a suspected serial killer, was allowed out after serving just 10 years of a 15 year sentence.
"Radical reform is required to ensure that the vast majority of sex offenders participate in appropriate programmes and to ensure that any sex offender who fails to do so is not granted remission or early release," said Mr Shatter.
However, Minister Ahern refuses to accept that prisoners should be forced to undergo treatment while in custody.
"Research indicates that there is no evidence to support the idea that mandatory attendance, or indeed attendance achieved under the threat of punishment, at rehabilitation programmes was of any value in reducing re-offending," said the Minister's letter.